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Downtown library employee publishes first novel

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MiguelFloresCourtesy

Miguel Flores, a customer service specialist at the downtown Olathe library branch, was originally working on a film score. But then that was eventually combined with some short stories about Flores' cat. That mixture became a book Flores called “The Witch’s Cat.”  

At the prompting of some friends, Flores, who uses "they" pronouns and is Filipino-American, decided to enter it into a Penguin Random House writers’ contest that aimed to get the work of more diverse authors in front of publishing executives. That was back in 2017. 

“I workshopped it with my editor a lot of times,” they said. 

BECOME A WRITER 

The journey to becoming a published author for Flores actually goes back further than the last four or five years. In fact, a self-described “storyteller,” they say they’ve been interested in telling stories longer than they knew how to write. 

“So as soon as I figured out how to translate those into words, I pretty much have been writing [since],” Flores said. 

When they first got started, however, Flores says they were more interested in poetry but that morphed into writing longer-form fiction in middle school. For a while, writing was a way to cope with depression. 

“I wrote a lot from my grief and hurt, and I don't think I really grew as a writer until I started writing from my joy,” Flores said. 

Flores said they’d advise young writers to draw stories from their own experience. 

“I always encourage my students to always be true to themselves,” they said, “and to what their perspective on the world is because a lot of times the world doesn't always want to listen to those kinds of stories.”

“THE HUNGRY GHOST” 

That book Flores was working on in 2017 has now been published by Viking under a new name — “The Hungry Ghosts” — geared toward a middle-grade audience of second-graders to middle-schoolers. It tells the story of a young witch named Milly, who resents her powers and lives in a world that’s less-than-accepting of her differences. Milly is, throughout the book, accompanied by a young Wind, a spirit creature, that’s been transformed into a cat. Cilla, a fellow orphan, wishes she were a witch, and when Milly is found to be practicing illegal magic, the authorities take Cilla by accident. 

“The story is about Milly trying to rescue Cilla from this fate,” Flores said, “and kind of come to accept that she is a witch even if she doesn’t want to be, and learning how to define that for herself.” 

Flores' book is available for checkout at the Olathe Public Library and for sale online.

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